As the coronavirus pandemic spreads at unprecedented rates, invading the lungs of people of all ages, ethnicities and medical histories, companies are ratcheting up their efforts to fight the disease with accelerated schedules for creating new vaccines, and beginning clinical trials for potential treatments.
South Korea is no exception. The government has pledged over 170 million dollars in the development of vaccines for COVID-19 and simplifying procedures for clinical trials.
"The gov't will strengthen cooperation with the private sector to help the development of treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
As such development for infectious diseases require lengthy research and huge expense, it is difficult for the private sector alone to make achievements in a short period of time.
The government will make R&D investments and shorten approval procedures to assure speedy development."
The hunt for a coronanvirus treatment and vaccine, part two: It's the topic of our News In-depth tonight with Dr. Ogan Gurel, a Medical Doctor himself, currently serving as chief medical officer for Psomagen USA, a division of Macrogen and Visiting Professor at DGIST.
Dr. Gurel, welcome back to our program.
Let's try to pick up where we left off last time you were here. That is a way to stop COVID-19. Now, if there is a way to stop this virus, it will be by blocking its proteins from hijacking, suppressing, and evading humans' cellular machinery, right?
Just three months after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, several biotech companies are beginning trials of promising vaccines and treatments. How is that possible?
**SARS-CoV-2, now known as COVID-19, is in the corona-virus family as MERS and SARS and due to their similarities, scientists are repurposing strategies form SARS and MERS to fight this virus.
The vaccine from Moderna has already started clinical trials based on their research from MERS.
Perhaps because it harnesses the power of the human immune system, much focus has been on antibody therapy, as well.
In fact, the Korea CDC announced yesterday that they are close to making public their antibody therapy guidelines for COVID-19 patients. How effective is infusing antibody-rich plasma from COVID-19 survivors into patients?
As we discussed in our previous session, because antivirals are rarely "miracle cures" the way antibiotics can be against bacteria, the development of vaccines are all the more important in the case of COVID-19. What are some promising vaccine developments underway?
There have been reports of the virus mutating. What good will the vaccine be if the virus mutates?
I was surprised to learn that we don't have vaccines for SARS or MERS. Does this hint at a problem in vaccine development for the novel coronavirus?
The world has been through the H1N1 epidemic, Ebola, SARS, MERS and now COVID-19. What would you say is one of the most important factors in riding out a pandemic of such scale?
In the meantime, as a medical expert, do you have recommendations for the average person like myself on how to best protect myself and others around me from contracting the coronavirus? Should we wear masks, for instance?
Dr. Ogan Gurel, Visiting Professor at DGIST and chief medical officer for Psomagen/Macrogen, many thanks for your valuable insights tonight. We appreciate it.